Seong Mi-kyeong had been dubbed the “daughter of the double bass family” for a long time. She joined the ranks of the most anticipated next-generation double bass players after sweeping the International J.M. Sperger Competition in 2010 at the age of 17 by winning the first place, audience award, joint performance award, and special award.
After performing at the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra as a principal player for a year, she will now return to South Korea and give her recital at 2 p.m. on May 30 at the IBK Chamber Hall of the Seoul Arts Center. Seong will be accompanied by pianist Ilya Rashkovsky who is currently teaching at Sungshin Women’s University as a visiting professor.
Sung’s father, Seong Young-seok, had played the double bass in the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra for a long time and her brother, Seong Min-je, is one of the most well-known double bass players in South Korea. “I went to a double bass camp hosted by my father when I was fourth grader at elementary school. I was learning how to play the cello at the time, but I really liked the deep sound of the double bass and was upset that I was the only one who didn’t know how to play the instrument at the camp,” she said. “So I said I wanted to play too and that’s how all things began.”
She smiled saying that the only music talk her family has is “keep practicing.” The double bass does not have a wide repertoire. For the upcoming recital, she will play Franz Schubert’s Serenade as the first music followed by playing cello sonatas of Felix Mendelssohn and Sergei Rachmaninoff with a double bass. The name double bass itself has an association with the cello, which means playing the cello parts at one octave lower during an ensemble.
“The cello resembles a human voice while the double bass sounds like a deeper and lower male voice. That’s why I decided to start the recital with familiar Serenade,” she said. “A bright cello sonata by Felix Mendelssohn is placed in the first half while Sergei Rachmaninoff’s sonata with a passionate and magnificent feel will be played after an intermission.”
At the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, for which she performed from 2018 to 2019 as a principal player, Seong was the only female and the youngest double bass player.
She always talks about Patrick Süskind’s novel “The Double Bass” whenever she sees her non-musician friends. “The main character who plays the bass is quiet and does not get noticed by others,” she explained. “But I won’t be like him. I want to create a dynamic double bass story opposite of the novel.”